SXSW Survival Guide: Wear sunscreen, and don't be an a-hole

Categories: SXSW
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Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Gimme Noise readers, prepare to be inundated. Starting tomorrow, we'll be heading down to Austin, Texas this week for the South by Southwest, and we can't wait to get on the other end of our impending 18-hour commute and start filing updates from amidst the chaos of the music festival. Unlike most music bloggers, who will likely spend the week singing the praises of up-and-coming hip national indie acts like Neon Indian, Sleigh Bells, Japandroids, etc., we'll be keeping it mostly local, tightening our focus around the 30-plus Twin Cities bands who are scheduled to play and giving you a feel for what it's like to fight for attention over the constant hum of thousands and thousands of other bands.

Keep an eye on the blog starting this Wednesday for daily updates by yours truly and blogger Andrew Flanagan, photos by Gimme Noise contributor Stacy Schwartz, and videos by Anthem Heart.

And for the time being, here are a few tips on surviving the music industry feeding frenzy that is SXSW, whether you'll be journeying down in person or following along.remotely:

1. Tear up all of your schedules and throw them away.

Unless you're on assignment or are dead-set on seeing a particular act, there's not much use in attempting to map out a daily itinerary. Trust me on this one -- as someone who has spent the past month poring over schedules and RSVPing to parties, I still have no idea what the hell I am doing. Resistance is futile; just give up and go with the flow. Some of the best discoveries are made while wandering around, bouncing between venues and following whatever sounds the best. As long as you know that nothing is going to go according to plan, everything becomes a lot less stressful. Remember, this is rock 'n' roll we're talking about.

2. Don't call it "South By."

Seriously. Just don't. It makes you sound like a pretentious a-hole. On a similar note, don't fill up your Facebook, Twitter, and blog feeds with incessant updates that have no relevance on the outside world. People who aren't going to SXSW are already sick of hearing about SXSW; try not to make it worse by posting about things that only those who are actually at the festival would care about.

3. Wear sunscreen. And sensible shoes.

It's just common sense, really.

4. There are bands you haven't heard of; get over it.

The most common question people are going to be asking each other this week (besides "Where can I find free beer today?") is whether or not you have heard of __________. And you know what? You probably have not heard of __________. And that's ok. Over 2,000 bands are playing official showcases this year, and countless more will play day parties and public shows. There's no way anyone could possibly be familiar with each and every band, so no need to vaguely mention that you might have heard that one song on Pandora once; just fess up and admit you're as clueless as everybody else.

Long story short, relax, be groovy, and let the music come to you. It's easy to get overwhelmed by SXSW, both as a reader as well as an attendee, but just remember: this is supposed to be fun. Come with us as we embark on a wild ride, and let's discover something new together, shall we?

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